Although the Renaissance epic was one of the principal literary means of representing war in its time, modern readers of the epic may often lack a basic understanding of the history of warfare. The author aims to bring an understanding of both the history of literature and the history of warfare to this study of the epic. Analyzing English, Italian and Iberian epics published between 1483 and 1610, Murrin focuses on particular aspects of warfare (cavalry clashes, old and new style sieges, the tactical use of the gun, naval warfare) and the responses to them by authors from Malory to Milton. Throughout, Murrin traces a parallel development in the art of war and in the epic as it emerged from the romance. Murrin demonstrates that with technology and increasing levels of carnage, the practice of war gradually drifted from traditional epic modes. However, before changes in warfare completely doomed the tradition in which the epic was rooted, this crisis provoked a range of experiment which marks heroic narrative in the late Renaissance and ultimately led to the epic without war.
University of Chicago Press
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